Lentils aren’t exactly a fancy superfood—their fibrous texture and relative lack of flavor can seem quite boring when compared to foods such as pizza and burgers. That said, with a little love and the right combination of spices, it’s easy to turn lentils into a nutritious and delicious meal that even avid meat eaters are sure to enjoy. The most important step is choosing the right kind of lentils for your recipe. Read on to learn more about some of the most common types of lentils and what they’re good for.
Sometimes referred to as French lentils, green lentils have a robust, earthy flavor and maintain their shape well when cooked. They’re ideal for use in side dishes and salads, providing an almost peppery kick that pairs excellently with herbs and root veggies. Their firm texture also allows green lentils to hold up well in dishes like soups and stews that require a longer cooking time.
Red lentils, on the other hand, have a mild, slightly sweet taste and a delicate texture that almost disintegrates as the lentils are cooked. As they break down, red lentils impart dishes with a creamy consistency, making them a great choice for soups and curries. They’re widely used in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisines, and tend to pair well with spices like turmeric and cumin.
Brown lentils also have an earthy, yet nutty flavor and fall somewhere between green and red lentils in terms of their texture. They hold their shape well and provide a satisfying bite, making them the best option for vegan and vegetarian recipes that call for a meaty texture. We love adding them to plant-based burgers and meatballs.